Tags: pyongyan | kim jong un | north korea | nuclear | trump

Resume Six-Party Talks to Deter, Compel Pyongyang

Resume Six-Party Talks to Deter, Compel Pyongyang
A man watches a television news programme showing U.S. President Donald Trump (C) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (L) at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017. (Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 09 August 2017 10:27 AM

On one hand, threats to deter requires convincing the other side not to do something you want it to do; on the other hand, threats to compel necessitate cessation of something it has or is acquiring, i.e., change behavior in your favor. Under a succession of American Presidents, the U.S. minimum objective was and is to compel Pyongyang to stop nuclear and missile tests. The U.S. maximum goal President Trump is to compel Kim Jong-un to destroy his nuclear and ballistic missile stockpile in exchange for something he values even more — survival of his regime. It is critical to make clear what the objectives are of these two strategies. Too often, there is a focus on means at the expense of purposes. The two go hand-in-hand.

Breaking News

During the early afternoon of August 8, citing the Defense Intelligence Agency, The Washington Post reported North Korea successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles and Pyongyang had about 60 nuclear weapons. Later that day, President Trump made a deterrent threat, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

But Kim Jong-un, speaking via a low-level military officer, promptly countered Trump. The New York Times reported North Korea warned it was considering a missile strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, the western Pacific island where the United States operates a critical Air Force base. Trump’s deterrent threat failed, at least for the time being. Trump’s predecessors used the language of presidential diplomacy. But, when you negotiate with a bully like Kim Jong-un, perhaps it's necessary to speak the language the bully understands.

At issue is what is the target of the Trump threat: Beijing, Pyongyang, both? My take is the threat was primarily directed to China, but North Korea also heard it, making the targeting issue less relevant. So, the jury remains in session, and the story is not over.

The Backstory

Regarding Iran, it has exchanged nuclear and missile technology for years, per an Iran expert, Alireza Jafarzadeh. The two rogue regimes complement each other in technical capabilities. Tehran has more ability to enrich uranium than Pyongyang, which has better skills to use spent plutonium from enrichment than its partner. Moreover, North Korea leads in missiles and miniaturized nuclear warheads that can fit inside these delivery systems.

The Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) aim is to restrict proliferation of missiles and related technology for systems capable of carrying a 500-kilogram payload at least 300 kilometers, as well as systems intended for the delivery of weapons of mass destruction. MTCR achieves its goals through export controls and licensing, information exchange among its 35 members, and outreach to non-members. MTCR complements The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act: It authorizes the United States to impose sanctions against foreign individuals, private entities, and governments that engage in proliferation activities.

While of great value, these international regimes have been unable to stop Pyongyang and Tehran from exchanging missile technology. Hence, threats and sanctions by American presidents have been a necessary approach to proliferation of missile exchanges between Iran and North Korea. Trump’s deterrent and coercive threats are a necessary complement to the international nonproliferation regimes. But threats of punishment need to be combined with promises of diplomacy for either to succeed. A strategy of threats without diplomacy is like a martini with alcohol but without vermouth.

Six-Party Talks for Pyongyang; Regime Change for Tehran

The nuclear-missile news present an opportunity for the Trump administration to combine diplomacy with threats of force. At the State Department Daily Briefing on August 1, our chief diplomat, Rex Tillerson, spoke the language of diplomacy when he said, “We have reaffirmed our position towards North Korea, that what we are doing, we do not seek a regime change; we do not seek the collapse of the regime; we do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula; we do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel.” And returning from Guam on August 9, Tillerson reaffirmed Trump’s tough talk but also spoke reassuring words to Pyongyang, per The Washington Post.

Assuring Pyongyang that Washington does not seek regime change can be combined with resumption of the Six-Party Talks. That bargain should be a goal of Team Trump. These negotiations should cut a deal with Pyongyang. In exchange for guarantees the Kim Jong-un regime can remain in power, China, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, and especially Washington would offer denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, while maintaining U.S. nuclear forces in Japan.

One route to coercing Iran is to place regime change by the Iranian people on the table. Ayatollah Khomeini is a bully, who should not be reassured his regime is safe from the Iranian people; on the contrary, he should be informed Washington stands with the people of Iran who wish to change their unelected and illegitimate regime, which is also a serial human rights violator.

Unlike North Korea, with no signs of an active, substantial antiregime movement, regime change from within Iran can be a tool in the administration’s kit, for an organized opposition to the Iranian regime already exists, to include, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in a principal role. Congressman Ted Poe’s July 31 piece in The National Interest, concurs with this view.

The Way Forward

First, the National Security Council interagency review of Iran policy needs to include options for changing the regime in Tehran. Team Trump should signal its willingness to, at a minimum, meet with and listen to Iranians who reject clerical rule of the Ayatollahs and seek to bring about regime change from within.

Second, the stick of tough talk, multilateral UN sanctions, and carrots of unilateral conversations as elements for a bargain with North Korea. But forget about changing Pyongyang from within: There is no self-sustaining organized opposition to Kim Jong-un.

Third, combine threats of punishment with promise of diplomacy to North Korea; continue to build on the Missile Technology Control Regime and The Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act as tools used in concert with threats and diplomacy for Pyongyang and Tehran, but only regime change for Tehran.

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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The U.S. maximum goal President Trump is to compel Kim Jong-un to destroy his nuclear and ballistic missile stockpile in exchange for something he values even more — survival of his regime.
pyongyan, kim jong un, north korea, nuclear, trump
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 10:27 AM
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